Singing the Psalms

Yesterday we had a catechism lesson on the second commandment. The ten commandments can be summarized into two commandments—loving God and loving our neighbours—which in turn can be further summarized into one commandment—loving God. Looking at the ten commandments from this perspective, we can essentially see the ten commandments as follows:

  1. Love God’s being.
  2. Love God’s worship.
  3. Love God’s name.
  4. Love God’s day.
  5. Love God’s representative.
  6. Love God’s image.
  7. Love God’s purity.
  8. Love God’s property.
  9. Love God’s truth.
  10. Love God’s providence.

The first to fourth commandments can also be seen as dealing with the worship of God:

  1. the person,
  2. the manner,
  3. the attitude, and
  4. the day of worship.

Surprisingly, we can readily see in Exodus 20 that there are more words used to express the second and fourth commandments compared with every other commandments. Someone once said that the second and fourth commandments are like the two banks of a river. The river becomes shallow when the banks are eroded, but it will be deep if the banks are strong and high. Likewise, Christianity is deep so long as the two commandments are faithfully kept. And yet, sadly, these two are the most neglected in our day.

The second commandment deals with the manner of worship. Not only does it prohibit the use of images in worship, but in principle it is an instruction on how worship ought to be performed—whatever is not appointed or sanctioned in the Scriptures is forbidden.

Today I came across this article. It reinforces what we have learned yesterday. The title is Rediscovering the Psalms. The author begins by expressing his joy to see that psalm singing is experiencing a renaissance today. “… the church is waking up to that which once marked it—the passionate singing of psalms.” He then recounts his own journey of growing in psalm singing. It is interesting to read his account of meeting a Peruvian minister during a short term mission trip in the Peruvian mountains.

Between pick ax swings I asked him why he sang only psalms. He gave three reasons. First, he was convicted that psalm singing was the biblical pattern of New Testament worship. Second, he was fighting heresy in his churches. False teaching slipped into his churches through folk songs slightly adjusted for worship. Psalm singing was his attempt to guard his people from heresy sung to a familiar tune. Third, he said, “I sing psalms because they are militant.” He wanted to teach his people that Christians daily engage in spiritual warfare. The psalms provided a war-time mentality to his young churches.

The author then moves on to list down the benefits we should expect from psalm singing, and how to begin singing psalms in private, family, and corporate worship.

In summary, the benefits of psalm singing are:

  1. When you sing Psalms you literally sing the Bible.
  2. When you sing the psalms you interact with a wealth of theology.
  3. When you sing the psalms you are memorizing Scripture.
  4. When you sing the psalms you guard against heresy.
  5. When you sing the psalms you engage a collection of songs that address the full range of human emotions.
  6. When you sing the psalms you praise the person and work of Jesus Christ.
  7. When you sing the psalms you are training for spiritual warfare.
  8. When you sing the psalms you are engaging the communion of saints.

And we can go about learning to sing the Psalms by:

  1. finding a Psalter we can sing,
  2. knowing our Bible,
  3. understanding how the psalms direct us to the person and work of Jesus Christ, and
  4. being willing to try something new.

For the full article, read here.


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